The Humane Society of the United States has deemed that the week before Mother’s Day belongs to the underdogs! More specifically, this week is named National Puppy Mill Action Week, in honor of the organization’s initiative to raise awareness and bring a stop to the horrendous treatment that animals receive while living in puppy mills.
This topic can be difficult to read about, but is so important to discuss so we can raise awareness and promote the humane treatment of all dogs! For those of you who aren’t aware, a puppy mill is a dog-breeding facility that breeds puppies for sale under inhumane conditions.The number of dogs in a puppy mill can vary significantly, and because they are often not licensed or inspected, it is impossible to keep accurate track of them. The name of the game in puppy mills is money. Therefore, female dogs are bred repeatedly and without recovery time between litters to produce a higher number of puppies, and thus maximize profit. Because female dogs are viewed simply as money-making machines, they are often simply euthanized or abandoned when they are no longer able to produce offspring. Puppies, then taken from their mothers too young, are sold to pet stores, who also often keep their dogs in inhumane conditions.
Besides than the unsafe breeding techniques practiced in puppy mills, the physical conditions of the kennels are often overcrowded and unsanitary. Puppy mill dogs live without appropriate social interactions (with other dogs or with people), exercise, healthy food/treats, mental stimulation, or veterinary care. They are often sitting in their own elimination for their entire lives, and either never get to breathe fresh air, or are kept outside, subjected to all weather elements. These deprivations can lead to behavioral problems in the long run, such as extreme shyness, fear-based aggression, and different types of anxieties. These problems tend to occur when puppies are not properly socialized, are taken from their mother too young, or are exposed to trauma at a young age. To be clear, the physical and emotional conditions of many puppy mills are in fact, traumatic.
Additionally, puppy mill dogs tend to have extensive health problems because “breeders” tend to ignore humane practices such as adhering to proper animal husbandry. Unfortunately, these so-called breeders also tend to practice “inbreeding” which means that they breed two dogs who are related by blood. This practice, as well as the failure to remove sick dogs from the gene pool or properly treat the dog’s illnesses, can lead to so many health problems in the resulting puppies. Some of these congenital defects include:
- Heart and/or Kidney disease
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Endocrine disorders
- Deafness and/or Blindness
- Respiratory disorders
Because of the deplorable conditions these dogs are kept in, and their lack of veterinary care, they are much more prone to bacteria and deadly viruses such as:
- Upper Respiratory Infections
- Kennel Cough
- Fleas and Ticks
- Intestinal Parasites
*Every single one of which can be fatal if not treated appropriately
In 1966, the US Federal Government passed the Animal Welfare Act, which requires breeders who have more than three breeding females and who sell puppies to pet stores to be licensed and inspected by the USDA. Unfortunately, the restrictions imposed by this law are actually quite minimal, and only require the bare minimum standard of care. While more than half of the states in the US have chosen to impose higher regulations, 21 states are still lacking in legislature in this area.
So, what to take away from this post: Stay Informed! It is so important to get the facts when you are bringing a new dog into your family. Get all the information when it comes to the conditions of the facility your new dog comes from, and if you question their practices, call your local Humane Law Enforcement!